TOT is a word-finding problem, the frustrating inability to retrieve a known word at a given moment. As we get older, connections between words and sounds weaken independently of other factors.
Memory slowly declines with age. Middle-aged and older individuals experience "senior moments,” an inability to recall someone’s name or items on a shopping list. When we want to say something, we retrieve words from memory, and then verbalize the word.
Short term memory decline could be “mild cognitive impairment (MCI).” People with MCI are aware of their memory problems. They retain thinking and reasoning, but have off and on episodes of short-term memory loss. They might misplace things, but they compensate by using lists, notes, and calendars. MCI is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Older adults have more TOTs than younger adults. Probing the recall of missing words illustrates how we turn thoughts into speech.
Some medications, such as Valium (Diazepam), Ativan (Lorazepam), Benadryl, Tylenol PM, and Advil PM, could hinder memory function. Older adults on average take five or more prescription medicines and three over-the-counter medicines. Multiple medicines increase risk of drug interactions, which could impair memory.
Kidneys might not excrete drugs from the bloodstream as efficiently as younger adults, and liver metabolism could be slowed. In addition, a greater ratio of fat to muscle increases the time for drug elimination from the body.
Vitamin B12 deficiency, untreated depression, low thyroid function, and adrenal gland problems may affect memory.
Long-term infections, such as Lyme disease, AIDS, tuberculosis, syphilis, and viral meningitis are rare causes of memory problems.
Head trauma (subdural hematoma) and excess fluid in the brain (normal pressure hydrocephalus) can affect memory.
Vascular Dementia, a slow, progressive disorder of tiny infarcts (strokes) in the brain, injures brain cells, causing memory and language difficulty. Risk factors for vascular dementia include long term high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, and coronary heart disease.
In some cases, phonologically related (sound alike) words hinder retrieval of a target word. Examples: brisk-whisk; marsupial-marten; and sustain-sustenance.
A moment lasts all of a second, but the memory lives on forever.
James Matthew Barrie
James Matthew Barrie
Questions or comments? Contact Dr. Clem at clementhanson.blogspot.com